Love Stories and Chocolate Treats (Part 3 of 4) Please join us for Book Club February 26th!

Friends! Grab some of your friends and head over to Book Club to hear what promises to be a grand discussion of an even grander love story and mystery, Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.

The Branches Book Club gals will be meeting at Middletown United Methodist Church on Monday Night, February 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

It’ll be fun to hear everyone’s thoughts on their favorite characters, and let me tell you, author Irene has created some real characters. You won’t want to miss the love story budding in this book and I suspect you’ll be as frustrated as I was with the twists and turns.

Frustration only kept my eyes peeled on the pages while neglecting the laundry and dishes as they began to pile up. Shhh, don’t tell my husband! Also, don’t miss other books by Irene! She’s a three-time Rita Award winner, having written fifty-plus books…

While Irene keeps the story moving, she dots it throughout with what I call “wow” statements. An early example is:  “Letting yourself care for anyone—or anything—was an invitation for grief.” Perhaps she does this to brace us readers for what’s around the corner.

Irene also weaves pictures of grace throughout the book.  We readers struggle right along with some of the characters trying to overcome their past. Adam Stone spent time in prison and is trying to get a new start.

Single mom, Lexie, is the police chief of Hope Harbor. She conveniently works on Sundays so as to avoid church. She and Adam converge over vandalism done to his home which triggers sparks for a potential romance. Irene says, “Strange how adversity could turn some people away from God yet lead others to him.”

You’ll find yourself turning pages more rapidly once the mystery of multiple vandalism unfolds coupled with Adam and Lexie’s relationship.  Other characters enhance their relationship in fun and many times humorous ways.

One teenage boy, after being discovered as one of the kids involved in one of the vandalisms, gets mentored by Adam, keeping him out of trouble. His mother is also a single mom.  His, and later his Mother’s transformation is another bonus we readers get to witness.

It’s surprising so many of these characters wind up together at the local church.  Don’t miss the orchestration!

Hurry and read Sandpiper Cove to find out if the mystery gets solved with the vandalisms, if Lexie and Adam jump the hurdles necessary to start a relationship (including a late-into-the-story complication against Adam’s character), and if grace really can be extended to those who seem guilty.

Come join us Monday night, February 26th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Please call Nancy Tinnell to RSVP at (502) 245-8839. We’d love to see you!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from Kentucky cookbook Bluegrass Winners by the Garden Club of Lexington.  Don’t miss the Chocolate Torte on p. 280.

 

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love and Chocolate Treats for February (Part 2 of 4)When You’re STUNNED about your Valentine’s Day Gift…

Friends! Happy Belated Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! Please enjoy two wild tales…

FLASHBACK:  Valentine’s Day 1993…

“No babysitter for Valentine’s Day???” I whined, coupled with a proficient pout…

“Now honey…” my way-too-practical hubby began…”You know restaurants jack up their prices on Valentine’s Day, and the boys are too little to take out…”

Translation:  “Why don’t you just cook us up somethin’?

Silent thought while heaving an extra loud sigh for future Oscar potential:  “Oh boy, grocery shopping with three boys is such a trip…literally….”

Determined to create fun and education for our Valentine meal, I hunted down ingredients for everything RED:  cherry cool-aid, red spaghetti sauce, cherry jello,  red sprinkles to go on the ice cream with the not-so-red-but-filled-with-a-boatload-of-chocolate brownies.

Spreading out papers for the boys to color, my scary cooking commenced…

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Quickly into our “project”, something was not quite right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Our oldest son, John Jr., was way too excited about helping with his brothers. They were coloring at lightening speed, wanting more and more “Valentines” to make for Daddy.

Dinner pulled together, Hubster now home and seated,  John Jr. and Gordy seated, Woody in his high-chair, the following proclamation ensued:

“Mommy!  We have a huge surprise for you! Daddy’s gotten a babysitter and everything!”

Visions of an escape to a hotel sans les enfants rolled thru’ my head….

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Fantasy interrupted, my mischievous husband said, “John Jr., why don’t you tell Mommy about her Valentine’s Day gift?”

“Mommy”, John Jr. continued with wildly excited eyes, “Daddy and I got a babysitter for Woody…

so that the four of us can go to…..

…the Truck and Tractor Pull!!!”…

Taken from www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

Taken from http://www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

“The what?”  I managed to ask…feigning interest…

“THE TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL!!!” John Jr.  repeated, now standing, voice at high decibels.

Fabulous hotel fantasy comes to a screeching halt.

Pivotal moment in Mother/Wife Career:

Enter a God moment…”You’d better put on a sense of humor while raising these boys, being a Godly, cheery, loving  wife and mom, or you’ll never make it.” (Guessing The Lord didn’t say “or you’ll never make it”, that’s just my translation.)

3boys

Bidding adieu to my very-sheltered-only-child background, it was time to buck up.  Riding a perpetual roller coaster comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will still praise you, Lord.

That year was a turning point for me.  Ups and downs, yes, but with a sense of humor.  Which segues beautifully into one of the funniest books on marriage I’ve read lately.

Allow me to share snippets of The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle.

antelope

You’ve probably heard of Melanie.  She’s one in the same who wrote Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. She reports receiving countless pairs of earrings after the book published.  (There’s an idea!  She said she really wanted her next book to be Louis Vuitton Purse with Matching Wallet!!!  I’m thinkin’ A Caribbean Villa…could be swell.) Check out her way popular blog at www.thebigmamablog.com.

With killer humor, Melanie shares good times and not-so-good ones with her husband, Perry.  Melanie and Perry define opposites attract.  She puts it like this:  “Perry loves the outdoors and I love air-conditioning.”

She says,  “There are days filled with laughter and compromise.  And then there are days filled with silence and anger.  But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together

… For  better or for worse.  In hunting season and in health.”

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My  wild-n-adventurous husband, John, used to ride motorcycles.  Shouts of praise he’s not riding anymore.  (At least for today.)  I poked fun at all the “accessories” a bike could have, not to mention the “gear”.  They make that in leather???

But guess what Melanie’s husband’s hobby is?  In addition to hunting, he makes homemade ammunition. You go, Perry.

In addition to humor, Melanie includes the importance of their faith.  She alludes to not following God and making bad choices prior to meeting Perry.

She and Perry met at a Bible study at Texas A &  M.  She said, “There was something about Perry that intrigued me.  He was different from other guys I’d met.  And he had a heart for God I hadn’t seen in many other guys.”

Making a list of husband qualities, Melanie realized, “What you really need is someone you’d want to be in battle next to you, someone who can make you laugh even in the tough times, someone who will encourage you to be the best  you can be…” (Sounds just like our “Balcony People” from a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Trish says her husband looks at her with “husband eyes”.  Same concept.)

Since surgery seems to be in the air at our house (we’ll go there later), I cried from laughing so hard over an incident when Perry had yet another surgery for his back.  After a night in the hospital, Melanie got Perry secured in the car for the drive home.  Spying a Chik-fil-A and craving one of their chicken biscuits, Melanie pulled into the drive-thru’ only to be informed they were no longer serving breakfast.

Seven minutes past the breakfast hour caused her to jump the curb to get out of the drive-thru’ lane.  Never mind Perry was in the passenger seat, barely twenty-four hours post-op from back surgery.  This is only the beginning…

Melanie gets Perry home and situated on the couch, somewhat still sedated.  She reports: “According to Perry, the Clemson Tigers band marched thru’ our living room to dispense his pain medication at some point that afternoon.  Which is weird, because we’re not even Clemson fans, not to mention that South Carolina is a pretty good haul from Texas.  So I took this as an indication that maybe it was time to cut back on the meds just a tad.”

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So for a guy who creates his own ammunition, hearing him suggest they try “radiant barrier paint” one day doesn’t seem so far fetched.  When Melanie asked him what he was talking about, he explained:  “It’s paint that makes a surface heat resistant.  They use it on the space shuttle, and I’m thinking about buyin’ some.”

Melanie replies, “Well, of course you are.  I’ve always said that if it’s good enough for the space shuttle, then it’s good enough for us.” 

bigstock-Space-Shuttle-Flying-Over-Eart-2873702

John and I aren’t the only ones having fun with this book!  Guess who else was caught laughing out loud reading this?  Ann Voskamp’s husband!  “The Farmer”, as she often calls him, got side-tracked while paying bills, and read some from The Antelope in the Living Room.  Picture Ann and the Farmer  howling, all the way up in Canada.

Melanie also sprinkles in a few stories about their daughter, Caroline.  She discusses leaving a legacy for Caroline and her future children.  A prayer she prays continually comes from Deuteronomy 30:6—“that the Lord would circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our descendants so that we will love God with all our heart and with all our souls.”

“That’s the legacy that’s worth working thru’ the hard times to leave for our daughter.”   She adds, “In this world that sometimes treats marriage like it’s a disposable commodity we can throw away when it no longer seems to serve our purposes, a world that whispers to us that the grass might be greener on the other side, that’s something worth keeping in mind…”  Oh, someone please shout hallelujah over that one!  May we press on…

Finally, soak in this visual:  In one particular scenario, Perry offered Melanie some inexplicable kind of grace.  She said,    “…even tho’ I thought I understood what grace looked like, I really had no idea how deep and wide the mercy of Christ is.  That he looks at us when we lay ourselves bare before him, with all our ugly truths and realities, and says, ‘And?’”

“In Psalm 103 we are told that God redeems our lives from the pit.  Verses 11-12 proclaim, ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’”

Melanie adds, “I once heard someone say that those words (of Psalm 103) represent the beams of the cross—reaching all the way up to the heavens with his love and stretching out to remove our sins as far as from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  Grasping the picture???  Beautiful!!!

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I pray you’re encouraged and enlightened by these glimpses of The Antelope in the Living Room.  There’s twenty-four lovely chapters to keep you that way!!!  And don’t forget this Valentine’s week:  Marriage is fueled by fun and forgiveness.

‘Til next time!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from another Kentucky cookbook called “Splendor in the  Bluegrass” by the Junior League of Louisville.  Its’ Chocolate Chess Bars on p. 245 are not to be missed!

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Love Stories and Chocolate Treats for February (Part 1 of 4)

Friends! It’s February—the month of love. I’ll be sharing a variety of engaging love stories with you over the next four weeks.  After all, who doesn’t love a good love story?

Plus, at the end of each post, I’ll be recommending some fun Kentucky cookbooks, pointing you to chocolate recipes as well as my new favorite chocolate treat I discovered. (I’m saving that for Part 4, just to keep you in suspense.)

This week, we’ll be highlighting a book by none other than Ravi Zacharias.  In addition to being a powerful speaker, Ravi is a prolific writer.  The book?  I, Isaac, take Thee, Rebekah—Moving from Romance to Lasting Love.

Ravi makes no bones about marriage being challenging.  He amuses us readers by telling several stories on himself.  Who knew he was a wedding crasher in his younger days? You’ll laugh out loud in every chapter.

Currently, my friend, Becky Pippert, speaks with Ravi on occasion and is one of many authors and speakers who are directly involved with his ministry, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. (RZIM – www.rzim.org)

Ravi’s own story of coming to know the Lord after growing up in India is astonishing.

Ravi blesses us with relational ideas for your marriage while also issuing warnings. I’ll call them relevant wake-up calls. My favorite aspect of the book is how Ravi points us to Scripture, showing us what God wants us to learn about marriage.

Here’s an early example of his warnings: “I am convinced that marriage is at once the most powerful union and the most misunderstood relationship we can experience. Like everything of intrinsic value, its use or abuse determines delight or devastation. To understand marriage God’s way is to carry a cherished dream into reality. To violate its’ built-in pattern is to mangle beauty and plunder one’s own riches.” Whoa.

Because Ravi travels the world frequently, he says he’s been privileged to visit many different cultures in many different homes. He shares, “One impression of any relationship that stands out and is remembered is the level of kindness or unkindness demonstrated between a husband and wife. The first is refreshing and the latter is discomforting. I’d go so far as to say there is NEVER a reason to be unkind…EVERY relationship should be marked ‘Fragile: Handle with care.’”

Ravi helps us dive into Genesis 24, the story of Isaac and Rebekah.  I’d forgotten how remarkable it is and the lengths to which God goes.  Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son, Isaac.  How would you like that job?

He doesn’t just send Eliezer next door, he instructs him specifically to go to his home land, to his relatives to find this wife. He did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman.

Eliezer prays to God asking for him to send a girl from this family who will approach him and ask a specific question.  You must read the whole account as it’s fascinating.

Fast forward after Eliezer meets Rebekah and takes her to Canaan to meet Isaac.  Can you imagine going to meet your husband for the first time whom you’ve never laid eyes on?

Somehow, even tho’ I’ve read these verses before, I’d never noticed Isaac’s posture upon Rebekah’s first glance. Ravi shows us, “Gradually, in the distance Rebekah deciphered the figure of a man walking, meditating, and praying.” He continues, “Hebrew scholars are not exactly sure how to translate the word used in this text, but the consensus was he was in a POSTURE of prayer.”

Before I could read the next sentence, I thought, “I seriously doubt I’d be found praying if I knew my spouse I was about to meet for the first time was due to arrive at any minute! I’d be nervously pacing…” Ravi proceeds to admit the exact same thing.  Do not miss this part!

Two of many excellent take home points for your relationship are pointed out to the reader from Isaac and Rebekah’s story:  “the first one is  hesed, or loving-kindness.  The second is the  constancy of prayers.  This entire story is bathed in prayer.

Eliezer prayed as he began his mission,

As he drew near to his destination,

And as he returned home again.”

Then he reminds us readers of Isaac praying. He again calls our attention to Isaac’s POSTURE of prayer. What is your posture of prayer? This must’ve been a point the Lord was calling my attention to as I had that exact same question in my Bible study class this very week. Coincidence? I think not…

Ravi’s writing style is inspirational, causing you to want to embrace his key points he makes.  Considering some of them, especially straight out of Scripture, you’ll see firsthand, with God, ANYTHING is possible!

Obviously, I strongly suggest grabbing this book ASAP to learn loads of ways to make your own love story just that:  beautiful and grace-filled.

Here’s one more sneak peek into Ravi’s suggestions:

Amen.

As promised, I’d like to share a couple of good ole’, reliable cookbooks from my home state.  This week I’d like to recommend one from my hometown of Lexington, KY.  I’ve used it countless times. Published by the Fayette County Medical Auxiliary for the benefit of Kentucky’s children, give this cake a whirl: “Decadent Fudge Cake with Double Chocolate Drizzle” on p. 272 of Creating a Stir in the Bluegrass and Beyond.

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Words That Will Change Your 2018…

Friends!  How are those New Year’s resolutions workin’ for ya?  Yeah, me too. February’s around the corner, we can always start over…

Oh, but do I ever have GOOD NEWS for you!  Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and snag a compelling, life-altering, heartwarming  book:  Wild and Free—A Hope Filled Anthem for the  Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan.

By now, you’ve probably figured out the two words:  WILD and FREE.

Neither of these words would I have attributed to yours truly.  However, Jess and Hayley will take you by the hand and walk you thru’ why and how exactly we are all wild and free in Christ.

Jennie Allen wrote the Foreword and tells us readers we will discover what it truly means when we read Galatians 5:1 –

Erin Loechner, who wrote Chasing Slow, says Jess and Hayley “are a dream team role model due for young women everywhere. Their minds, souls, and spirits are wildly different, but together, their hearts gracefully point to one common purpose: to find freedom and rest in God alone.” (Learn more about Chasing Slow here.)

What makes this book such a fun read is the two authors who really are “wildly different” as Erin says, take turns writing the chapters.  Each chapter will first include say Jess’ thoughts, followed by a beautiful prayer, followed by Hayley’s response to what Jess has said and then vice versa.

You can find out more about Jess via her website:  www.jessconnolly.com and also from her blog and wildly entertaining website loaded with goodies:  www.allgoodthingscollective.com She’s the co-founder of SheReadsTruth and of The Influence Network, two great resources.

In addition to her writing, Hayley and her husband started Wildly Co., a children’s clothing company and she’s also a co-founder of The Influence Network.  Hayley and Jess each have four children which will slay you as you read their writing, wondering where they found the time to put Wild and Free together. (Also, don’t miss their book’s website:  www.wearewildandfree.com ) Hayley blogs at www.thetinytwig.com .

Jess and Hayley are brutally honest (which is what helps the reader relate to both of them) and full of passion for our Lord.  They offer proof after proof for any argument you may concoct. I soooo wish I’d had this book when I was in my 20’s!

Jess begins by saying, “the wild and free life is waiting for you. It’s been purchased on the cross, and the kingdom of God is waiting, heaving, groaning—ready for you to take our place. And it’s never too late to say yes. The story isn’t over. It’s just getting started.”

Hayley responds by saying, “As I’ve studied Scripture, though, I believe if we are not walking wildly in who God created us to be, we’re missing out on a large portion of our charge as believers. We were made in the image of God; our original mom and dad inhabited the wildest, lushest, and safest garden.”

Jess reminds us, “You can walk away from comparison, throw shame in the trash, and stop skipping around worrying …Our Savior paid the ultimate price so we could live the way we were intended to—underneath the banner of the gospel, at ease.  See what I mean by empowering words? The entire book is crammed full of powerful visuals making you feel like a warrior by the end of it.

Without giving away too much more, I’ll show you just one of my favorite quotes from Hayley in an amazing chapter called Unchained and Unafraid. She shows us several examples of what a free woman looks like:  “She is not paralyzed by decisions, because she’s indwelled with the Spirit of peace.” After these statements, we’re gifted with a verse. This one offers Romans 15:13 –

Try Wild and Free out for yourself first, and then my guess is you’ll begin thinking of who else in your life would enjoy it while you’re reading.  To further challenge your wallet (!!!), I just discovered Jess wrote another book that released last fall.  I’ve just put it on my shopping list:  Dance, Stand, Run:  the God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground.

Since next month delivers Valentine’s Day, we’ll be talking about some amazing love stories. Oh, and maybe some chocolate… Stay tuned…

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

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You’re Invited to a Wildly Fun Book Club, a la Bob Goff, Monday 1/22! (**PLUS FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY Opportunity !**)

Friends!  Call up your friends NOW and invite them to what promises to be a boatload of fun next Monday, January 22nd, from 6:30-8:00 at Middletown United Methodist Church. It’s our first Book Club Meeting of the New Year!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

We’ll be discussing Love Does—Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by the one and only Bob Goff.  Once you get to hear Bob speak, you can’t miss his inflections in his book. He depicts some kind of crazy in everything he does!

Louie Giglio says Bob is “a one-man tsunami of grace, a hurricane of love.”  Bill Hybels says, “If this book doesn’t make your heart beat faster, book the next flight to Mayo Clinic!” And in the Foreword, by Donald Miller, he says, “Where you and I may want love and feel love and say love, Bob reminds us that love does things….

“…It writes a letter and gets on a plane. It orders pizza and jumps in a lake. It hugs and prays and cries and sings. Much of what we’ve come to know and believe about love doesn’t ring true once you know this man whose love does.

Then for the next thirty-one short-n-sweet chapters, Bob will show you what Jesus with skin on looks like.  Some are hysterical, while others will cause you to fetch a Kleenex. Bob is so not about himself and all about others.  (“All the proceeds of this book are being donated to Love Does to promote human rights and education around the world. www.lovedoes.org and also the Mentoring Project, www.thementoringproject.org These two organizations are committed to loving kids in tangible ways…”)

Don’t miss Chapter Seven, “Sweet Maria”, about Bob’s bride.  And while you’re at it, you’d also love Maria’s book, Love Lives Here—Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want.  From the short glimpse of their relationship in Bob’s book, you’ll get the bigger picture with wildly fun details in her book. (I wrote about it last September.)

In each chapter you get to be Bob’s righthand man, hanging out with him, seeing him in action. You’ll get to meet  Bob’s Young Life Leader, named Randy, who did something so outrageous in the first chapter, you’ll be hooked and won’t be able to put the book down.

Check this out:

“What I learned from Randy changed my view permanently about what it meant to have a friendship with Jesus. I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it involves being present and making a sacrifice. Perhaps that’s why Jesus is sometimes called Immanual—‘God with us.’”

And with that, you’re jump started into the next chapter and the next and the next!  If you’ve not read the book yet, still come to hear the discussion at Book Club Monday night. Then maybe try reading a chapter a day for a month—31 days straight.  See if your conception of Jesus isn’t expanded, all for the better! It’s a beautiful experience! (FYI:  My three favorite chapters, if I had to pick, are:  “Friends, Welcome Home!”, “Memorizing Jesus”, and “Palms Up.”)

Meanwhile, come join us for what is sure to be a lively discussion at Book Club next Monday, January 22nd!  Please bring a healthy snack if time allows.  Since we’re into the New Year and by now have probably ditched our diets, let’s resume our healthy eating.  (I confess instead of granola or carrot sticks, I may bring carrot cake, but don’t tell anybody.)

We look forward to seeing you next Monday, January 22nd, from 6:30-8:00!  Happy to report the Connection Center is still available for January while the remodeling project looms closer and closer…

Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839.  And bring lots of friends! Everyone is welcome!

‘Til next time!

**Leave a comment in the next week if you’ve read the book or heard Bob speak before and tell us WHY you like his method to his madness so much.  You’ll be entered into a free giveaway of Love Does AND Love Lives Here you can either keep for yourself or give to a friend!**

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Start the Year Off Right with Help from “Chasing Slow—Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path” by Erin Loechner

Friends!  Happy New Year!  Let’s rejoice we have a fresh start…a new year, a new calendar, a do-over (anyone?), a mulligan for you golfers.

Recently I discovered a multi-talented young lady by the name of Erin Loechner. Some of you know her from her wildly popular blog, www.designformankind.com Others of you may have caught her when she was on HGTV.  I found her from her latest book which caught my eye:  Chasing Slow—Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path.  The book cover plus its’ title grabbed me right away.

The layout of the book is clean, easy to navigate, and includes some amazing, healthy recipes.  SOLD.  Divided into three parts (“Chasing More”, “Chasing Less”, and “Surrender”), you’ll get thirty-four small chapters to absorb.

Because I’m forever using phrases like, “I’m chasin’ my tail today.” Or “I’m playing beat the clock and losing again…”, Chasing Slow sounded wildly appealing.

Erin takes you on her journey while showing us what it looks like to look for, but avoid, the lion. You know, the roaring one lying to you through his teeth.

Newly married and living in LA, Erin and her husband, Ken, learn he’s got a brain tumor. Couple that with depression and anxiety on Erin’s part, and they’ve got more than a full plate.

She says, “In my mind’s ocean are jaws of depression, tentacles of anxiety. I live daily in the hope that if I work hard enough, if I paddle fast enough, I might outswim the sadness. I might outsmart the tension. I might overcome life’s ambiguity with sheer will, force of mind….” (Notice how many times she uses “I”.)

Then she remembers this verse:

She concludes, “I do know that with God comes wisdom and time, and with wisdom and time comes perspective, and that sometimes, overcoming depression requires an oversized cocktail shaker of all of those things, on the rocks, please.”

Bottom line?  She carries on her sense of humor:  “But sometimes, often, the most reverent spiritual practice is to pick up the pug dung and get back to work.”  In other words, just do the next thing.

You’ll get to see how her blog was born, which she says is her escape, a way to “silence our lions.” She honestly reveals many of their highs and lows. In an article in Relevant magazine from last fall, Erin says, “It’s all about creating margin, ‘Sabbath’ is there for a reason.’”

Another fun fact from the layout of this book, is every so often Erin gifts us with a math lesson. My favorite is #004:  “No = a Complete Sentence.”

Savor this from G.K. Chesterton:

You’ll also get to see how Erin and Ken get themselves into a financial mess, which leads to a move back home in the Midwest with Erin’s family. An opportunity with HGTV suddenly arrives and Erin remarks, “The thing about apples is that we’re always biting off more than we can chew. It is hard to see which bites might nourish and which might cause us to choke.” That’s another case of beware of that prowling lion!

Erin teaches, “Here is the secret to subtraction: It doesn’t matter what you remove. What matters is that you stop adding it back.” POW.

Erin and Ken become blessed with a new baby daughter, they name “Bee”. Their navigation into parenthood is a blast to read. If you’ve had a newborn in your life before, you’ll laugh along with them. Another one of Erin’s math lessons for us is #010:  “Sticker sheet + Toddlers = 5 minutes of peace and quiet for Mama.”

While Erin was writing Chasing Slow, her circle of friends began passing a book around called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You might imagine Erin adores it given her book topic. Don’t miss her hysterical remarks about the book.  It was passed around my circle of friends as well.  As I survey my surroundings, I spot signs of mega clutter. It’s occurring to me I may need to dig that meddling book back out with the new year. Sigh…

Finally, when you hit chapter 34, you find yourself wanting more from Erin, and yet her encouragement, use of Scripture verses, and prayers throughout make you want to roll your sleeves up and start chasing slow. Erin suggests, “Chase what God wants for your life, and ask Him how to get there.”

The grande finale of the book holds TWO surprises before you read the last page: (1) The Resource section.  “From A to Z, a Few Easy Changes to Slow Your Life” will bless you further. And (2) “Five Methods of Decluttering Your Home”.  These are priceless.

Thank you, Erin, for a delightful way to start 2018!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

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Three Last Minute Gift Ideas and One Killer Question…(Part 4 of 4)

Friends! I pray this post finds you skipping and singing, altho’ by the looks of some shoppers at the mall yesterday, several Scrooges were spotted.  Sigh…

Good news is if you need a couple of last minute things, I’ve got three ideas for you.  One devotional for, say teens to centenarians, another for wee ones, plus a very cool way to help you and your friends get your face in the Word every day. (And in a perfect world, perhaps memorize a Scripture or two. Hey, no groaning now, it’s Christmas time!)

First up, allow me to give you a glimpse of a gorgeous coffee table book that’s also a lovely devotional.  Artist and author Ruth Chou Simons’ book, Gracelaced—Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart will bless the socks off you and anyone else you happen to give it to.

From its’ beautiful cover and on into the book, you’ll be met with splendid artwork and photographs divided into the four seasons of the year.  Each season has eight words/entries for you to pour over, including extra Scriptures to look up to help you “delve deeper” as well as a section at the end with questions to help you consider how you’ll respond once you’ve read it.

For example, in the Winter section, Ruth shows us what resting in God’s character looks like, “reminding us that true rest comes when we rest in Him.” The next eight entries help us:

“Rest in God our Refuge,
Rest in God’s Faithfulness,(two different times)
Rest in Christ’s Sufficient Grace,
Rest in God’s Nearness,
Rest in God’s Wisdom,
Rest in God’s Mercy, and
Rest in God’s Power.”

I was stunned to discover Ruth and her husband, Troy, have quite the full quiver:  SIX BOYS. After raising three, I can only imagine TWO three-ring circuses!!!

Ruth’s down to earth writing style is relatable and she tells on herself more than once.  She gifts readers with the courage to press on.

Don’t miss her website.  She includes opportunities to order her artwork in the form of printables, notecards, journals, along with some fun recipes. Go to her Shoppe and see what’s available!

Second idea is a devotional for wee ones entitled Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  My friend, Aletia, gifted me with this when our first granddaughter, Claire, was born. While it’s for children, I’m enjoying reading it before Claire’s old enough to understand it!

There are 101 thoughts on faith which include spiritual truths straight out of the Bible. One of many favorites is “Bless You!”. Sally teaches, “When God promises to bless you, He is saying,’I’m going to make you into everything I ever meant for you to be!’ It means God is taking every day and every single thing that happens in it—good or bad—to make you stronger, to mend  whatever is broken inside, to change you into the person you were always meant to be.”

Tim Keller wrote the Foreword saying this book “may be the best, first introduction for children to have their own time with Jesus which has long been a missing piece that has direct effect on whether a child grows up with a balanced spiritual life or one that is dangerously one sided.”

Many of you know Sally from her infamous Jesus Storybook Bible.  Jago did the illustrations for both of these books. I learned of this book from our middle son, Gordy, when he was in college. Campus Outreach leaders introduced the kids to it. When he asked for a copy I bought one for us too. Kathy Keller, Tim’s wife, says she gives college students and many visitors to their church copies as it’s so easy to understand.

Sally has also written other numerous children’s books, my favorite being Skip to the Loo, My Darling! Grand for potty training your kiddos and it’s illustrated by Anita Jeram who also illustrated Guess How Much I Love You.  The book is beyond clever. Whether you’re successful at potty training or not, you’ll find yourself howling.

I’ve caught Sally on the Eric Metaxas show several times.  They’re good friends and are hilarious in each of the interviews they’ve done.  Many times she’ll read one of her children’s books which is delightful getting to hear her British accent. (www.metaxastalk.net)

Checkout Sally’s website to see all the books she’s written:

The third gift idea was discovered at a store here in Louisville called Lulubelle’s in Norton Commons, thanks to our daughter-in-love, LT.  It’s called “Small Squares with Mighty Words…” I bought all they had(!!!), but LT tells me they’re getting more in.  I gave these to my friends at our Favorite Things party, plus got more for stocking stuffers, and well, figured I could use one too.

I found two of a few color options in these little square boxes.  You get 50 multi-colored cards with Scripture verses on the front and back. (You math geniuses have already figured out you’ll get to read 100 verses.)

The white box includes a clear acrylic stand, with Scripture cards in muted, pastel colors, packaged as “Small Squares with Mighty Words of Love.” The brown box includes a brown, wooden stand with primary colored cards.

I’ve placed mine on my bathroom vanity where I’ll see it every morning.  Others have put theirs in their kitchen window or by the kitchen sink.

If you live in Louisville, head to Lulubelle’s (www.lulubelles.com). If you live out of town, visit the manufacturer’s website: www.thimblepress.com

Finally, while I’ve talked about gifts all month, the fact is we’re fast approaching Christmas and the birth of our Savior… Here’s your killer question to keep you focused in the midst of the mayhem (I heard this on the radio and it stopped me in my tracks.):

What are YOU giving YOUR KING this year for His birthday? (Share your answer with friends and family.)

May you and your family and friends have a most blessed Merry Christmas as you savor the season and have a lovely, healthy, Happy New Year as well!

 

‘Til next time!

FYI:  This computer and its’ operator (Moi) are shutting down for a couple of weeks…on purpose.  We’ll do a fun series come the second week of January on starting the New Year off slowly. No stress allowed!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Holidays